Getting innovations noticed – Deccan Herald

The next set of successful startups in India will be in the space of consumer technology, social enterprises and healthcare services, a top official of the Marico Innovation centre that conducts programmes for scaling startups told DH.

Priya Kapadia, the director of the Marico Innovation Foundation (MIF), an arm of Marico Limited said, “The foundation has been working with startups for almost 7 years now. We have seen a transformation from app-based startups to startups in consumer-facing technologies that are looking to find better solutions for issues that consumers face. We are seeing a lot of interest in startups in social enterprise space that is looking at combating issues such as global warming and climate change.”

What do they do?

The Marico Innovation Foundation basically makes an attempt to identify startups with disruptive ideas. Each year, it picks companies to mentor under its scale-up programme, where they learn about strategy and marketing and also receive mentorship aimed at making their businesses grow. The foundation says that projects like the Akshaya Patra and ISRO’s Mangalyaan (the Mars Orbiter Mission) had bagged these awards before they shot into the limelight. 

Kapadia explains, “In the past 10 years, we have been looking at innovations that are impacting India, especially in three segments – social, businesses, and startups,” she says.

According to Kapadia, the foundation was set up to generate buzz about innovation and reward innovators. “We have done many things in the past 15 years, such as instituting innovation awards, to bringing out a book and have recently started an acceleration programme to help innovative organisations to scale.”

How does it work?

The Marico scale-up project, says Kapadia, occupies a spot between an incubator and an accelerator programme. “We do not look at companies starting out. We look at established startups with a topline of about Rs 1 crore in this programme. We are not taking fresh ideas and creating solutions out of them.”

She adds, “Moreover, our programmes usually last longer than regular accelerator programmes that often last only for a few weeks.” 

The foundation offers mentorship opportunities, both within and outside the Marico fold. It takes a fee of Rs 25,000 from companies selected for this programme.

Kapadia says, “Most small businesses with good ideas often find issues in scaling up for a variety of reasons, be it in sourcing good quality material, getting a working supply chain, better customer acquisition and choosing an online or offline model. We want to offer solutions that will ensure that these companies are able to scale up quickly and do well.”

Once the startup is brought on board, the MIF team works to ascertain the business challenges they are facing and help devise a course of action to solve them. 

Kapadia says, “One of our biggest success stories was Atomberg Technologies, a Mumbai based company that makes energy-efficient ceiling fans. We helped them tweak their e-commerce sales strategy that helped them scale up 5X in online sales. We also offered inputs on the best way to market their product in a B2C marketplace as well.”

The foundation is also gearing up for its next award ceremony that will be held in March 2020.

“We have managed to bring to the fore many innovative ideas that did go on to become successful ventures and have Akshaya Patra, Goonj, Redbus and Indigo among our winners’ list,“ says Kapadia.


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